Unlicensed New Hampshire Daycare Employees Charged With Spiking Children’s Food To Make Them Sleep

Four employees of an unlicensed daycare facility in Manchester, New Hampshire, have been arrested and charged with endangering children after allegedly lacing the kids’ food with melatonin, a sleep supplement, without the knowledge or consent of their parents. The arrests follow a six-month investigation that began in November 2023 after authorities received a report of “unsafe practices” at the daycare.

The arrested individuals are the daycare owner, 52-year-old Sally Dreckmann, and three employees: Traci Innie, 51, Kaitlin Filardo, 23, and Jessica Foster, 23. Each faces 10 charges of endangering children.

According to the Manchester Police Department, detectives discovered that the children’s food was being sprinkled with melatonin, an over-the-counter sleep aid, without parental knowledge or consent. The long-term effects of melatonin on children are not well-known, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has warned against its use in kids and adolescents due to a lack of FDA oversight.

The CDC has reported a significant increase in emergency department visits between 2012 and 2021 due to children accidentally ingesting melatonin. It remains unclear how many children at the daycare were given melatonin or for how long.

Local neighbors were unaware that a daycare was operating in their community and expressed their outrage upon learning of the arrests. One grandparent, Gary Boucher, called the situation “outrageous” and hoped that authorities would not only make arrests but also shut down the facility.

In New Hampshire, it is legal to operate an unlicensed daycare facility as long as no more than three children are cared for at a time. The investigation revealed that Dreckmann’s daycare was not licensed.

The four suspects are scheduled to appear in court next month as the investigation continues into the alleged misconduct at the unlicensed daycare facility.